• Hungarian GP - FP3

Hamilton and Rosberg set for close battle in qualifying

ESPN Staff
July 26, 2014
© Sutton Images

Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time in final practice at the Hungarian Grand Prix, but only by a narrow 0.047s margin over Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton completed a clean lap on the soft tyres, but despite Mercedes' chunky advantage over the opposition in sectors one and two, he was bettered by Fernando Alonso's Ferrari in the final sector. Rosberg ran wide at Turn 12 on his first attempt on soft tyres before and got within 0.3s of Hamilton's time on his second run. With Hamilton returning to the pits, seemingly happy with his first attempt, Rosberg stayed out for a third timed lap on the softs and closed to within half a tenth of his championship rival, promising a tantalising battle in qualifying.

Sebastian Vettel ended up third fastest and 0.407s off the Mercedes pair as Red Bull look set to lead the chasing pack this weekend. Daniel Riccoardo was fourth fastest and 0.630s off Hamilton, just edging Valtteri Bottas in the Williams, which could also be a contender for the front two rows.

Alonso's best effort put him sixth fastest and 0.721s off the lead Mercedes, but for the first time in several races he could have competition from Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, who was 0.770s off his time. Kevin Magnussen's strong form continued as he clocked a time over 0.5s faster than McLaren team-mate Jenson Button and took eighth as a result. The two Toro Rossos rounded out the top ten ahead of Felipe Massa, who will be hoping to get closer to team-mate Bottas in qualifying.

Lotus showed a potential return to form with Pastor Maldonado 13th and Romain Grosjean 14th, but the Force India's back in 17th and 18th could hold a surprise in the race if they are able to make a one-stop strategy work.

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